Renewable Energy, Solar, Wind

Duke Energy aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050

Duke Energy announced an updated climate strategy with a new goal of net-zero carbon emissions from electric generation by midcentury.

The company also is accelerating its near-term goal by cutting its carbon dioxide emissions by half or more from 2005 levels by 2030.

This follows strong progress the company has made in reducing carbon emissions 31% since 2005. The reduction Duke Energy has already achieved meets or exceeds the standards of the former Clean Power Plan and the 2025 U.S. commitment to the Paris Agreement.

The company’s 2017 goal to reduce carbon emissions 40% by 2030 was one of the industry’s most ambitious at the time. Since then, sustained, low natural gas prices and declining costs for renewables and storage have allowed the company to accelerate that goal to at least 50% by 2030.

“We are making a cleaner energy future a reality for our customers and communities,” said Lynn Good, chairman, president and CEO. “A diverse mix of renewables, nuclear, natural gas, hydro and energy efficiency are all part of this vision, and we’ll take advantage of economical solutions to continue that progress. In the longer-term, innovation and new technologies will be critical to a net-zero carbon future.”

The company’s net-zero goal represents one of the most significant commitments to reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. power sector. Achieving these goals requires a thoughtful approach that pairs today’s technologies with the research and development needed for tomorrow. The company expects it can achieve significant reductions in carbon emissions by 2050 with the technology that exists today.

“Getting to net-zero carbon emissions, while ensuring energy remains reliable and affordable, will require new technologies. That’s the very reason we need to act now,” Good said. “We must continue leveraging today’s technologies while sustaining investment in innovation for this vision to become reality.”

Duke Energy outlined this path to a net-zero carbon future:

• Transforming the energy infrastructure is no small task, and these steps will enable the appropriate balance between pace and cost, reliability and innovation.

• Collaborate and align with states and stakeholders as we transform. The steps and timeline for this transition will be unique in each state we serve, and we’ll collaborate with regulators, customers and other stakeholders to determine the right path.

• Accelerate the transition to cleaner energy solutions. Duke plans to at least double the company’s portfolio of solar, wind and other renewables by 2025. Duke will continue deploying low-cost natural gas to speed the transition from coal and maintain reliability. New natural gas infrastructure will be required to fuel this transition and balance renewables. Duke will continue expanding energy storage, energy efficiency and electric vehicle infrastructure.

• Continue to operate the existing carbon-free technologies, including nuclear and renewables. Duke’s nuclear fleet’s nearly 11,000 MW of carbon-free generation in the Carolinas is central to Duke’s ability to meet these goals. That’s enough energy to serve 7 million homes.

• Modernize the electric grid. The company is investing in a multiyear effort to create a smarter and more resilient grid that can protect against extreme weather and cyber or physical attacks. These grid improvements also support adding more renewables, while avoiding outages and providing customers more control over their energy use.

• Advocate for sound public policy that advances technology and innovation. This includes advanced renewable energy, longer-lasting storage, new nuclear technologies, low- and zero-carbon fuels and effective ways to capture carbon emissions. The company also will support permitting reforms that will enable new technologies to be deployed.